Becoming a CHRISTIAN
ADULT BAPTISM/CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST
Children's Baptism Application Form
Confirmation Application Form 2016
BECOMING A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN
THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
What is the RCIA?
The RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is a liturgical process through which non-baptized men and women are welcomed into the Catholic Church. It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism.
2. What are the steps of the RCIA?
Prior to formally beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This time period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some people, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, it is a shorter time. Often, some contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience leads people to inquire about membership in the Catholic Church.
After conversation with an advisor or spiritual guide, the person, known as an "inquirer," may decide to continue the process and seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. The inquirer stands in the midst of the parish community and states that he or she wants to continue the process and become a baptised member of the Catholic Church. The local parish assembly affirms his or her wish and the inquirer then becomes a "catechumen."
The period of the Catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a much shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions and obstacles they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this faith journey. During this time the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they want to make to respond to God's inspiration, and what membership in the Catholic Church involves. Catechumens have a special connection to the Church and even though they are not yet baptized, they also have certain rights in the Church.
When a catechumen and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election. This rite includes the official enrolment of names of all those seeking baptism at the coming Easter Vigil. On the first Sunday of Lent, the catechumens and their sponsors and families and members of the parish gather at the cathedral church and the catechumens publicly request baptism. Their names are then recorded in a special book and they are then no longer called catechumens, but "the elect." The days of Lent are the final period of purification and enlightenment leading up to the celebration of initiation at the Easter Vigil. This Lenten season is a period of intense preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the elect, and special prayers for them by the parish communities.
The third formal step is the Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, which takes place during the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday night when the catechumen receives the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church and will continue to live out his or her response to God as a member of this faith community.
After the person is initiated at the Vigil, another period of formation and education continues in the period of the post baptismal catechesis which is called "Mystagogy." This period continues at least until Pentecost and often longer. During the period of Mystagogy the newly baptised members reflect on their experiences at the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Scriptures, the sacraments, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition they reflect on how they will serve Christ and help in the Church's mission and outreach activities.
ALREADY A BAPTISED ADULT AND WISH TO BECOME CATHOLIC?
3. What is meant when people refer to men and women coming into "full communion with the Church"?
Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for men and women who are baptised Christians but not Roman Catholics. These individuals make a profession of faith but as they are already baptised, their dignity as Christians is respected.
To prepare for this reception, the people, who are called "candidates," usually participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the specific teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Some of their formation and preparation may be with catechumens preparing for baptism, but the preparation for candidates is very different since they have already been baptised and committed to Jesus Christ, and many of them have also been active members of other Christian communities. Reception into full communion may take place at various times throughout the year.
4. What is the Holy Saturday rite like?
The Holy Saturday Liturgy begins with the Service of Light which includes the blessing of the new fire and the Paschal candle which symbolises Jesus, the light of the World. The second part consists of the Liturgy of the Word with a number of Scripture readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the candidates are presented to the members of the community, who pray for them and join in the Litany of the Saints. After the Litany and prayer for the elect, the presider blesses the water placing the Easter or Paschal candle into the baptismal water. Those seeking baptism then renounce sin and profess their faith after which they are immersed into the baptismal water three times with the words, "I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In some situations the water may be poured over the head of each candidate.
After the baptism the newly baptised are dressed in white garments and are presented with a candle lighted from the Paschal Candle. The newly baptized are then confirmed by the priest or bishop whose imposes hands on their heads, and invokes the gift of the Holy Spirit. He then anoints them with the oil called Sacred Chrism.
The Mass continues in the usual fashion. Now the newly baptised participate in the general intercessions, in bringing their gifts to the altar, and they share in the offering of Christ's sacrifice. At the Communion of the Mass, each of the newly baptized receives the Eucharist, Christ's body and blood, for the first time.
5. What does the white robe symbolise?
The newly baptised are dressed in a white garment after baptism to symbolize that they are washed clean of sin and that they are to continue to walk in this newness of life.
6. What does the candle symbolise?
A small candle is lit from the Easter candle and given to the newly baptised as a reminder to them always to walk as children of the light
7. What does the Sacred Chrism symbolise?
The Sacred Chrism, or oil, is a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to the newly baptized. It is also a sign of the close link between the mission of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who comes to the person with the Father in baptism.
8. Why was this ancient rite restored?
It was restored in the Church to highlight the fact that the newly baptised are received into a community of faith, which is challenged to realise that they too have become different because of this new life in the community.
If you would like to know more about the Sacraments of Initiation, seeking full communion with the Church or simply would like to explore the Catholic Faith further, do contact the parish. We would be very pleased to help you in any way we can.
BAPTISM OF CHILDREN
GUIDE FOR CATHOLIC PARENTS
Congratulations on the birth of your child.
To bring new life into the world is indeed both a very special gift and a challenge.
Thank you for wanting your child to join the family of the church through Baptism. You have decided to give your child the chance to grow up in Christ. We want to help you carry your decision by giving you our whole hearted support.
Are you ready for your Child's Baptism?
When you ask for your child to be baptised it is your faith that is important. At the ceremony, you speak on your child's behalf. You present your child for Baptism and promise to nurture the new life of grace your child receives. It is therefore important to be part of the faith community as this is the community into which your child will be baptised. The first step to your child's baptism is to chat to the Parish Priest after a Sunday mass. Baptismal preparation sessions will then be arranged and a date will be set at these sessions.
Celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism
Your child's baptism is an occasion for the whole parish. It is important for the parish to mark the occasion too. Infant baptism normally takes place at one of the Sunday masses at St Alphege's as this is the weekly gathering of the family your child is to join.
Choose your child's Godparents with care! They must share your faith and be at least 16 years old. It is customary to have two Godparents though only one is required. Godparents must be Catholic. The reason for this is that they understand and share the responsibility of handing on the faith to your child as (s)he grows up. Non-Catholics who are practising members of other Christian communities can be chosen as witnesses to stand with Godparent(s) during the ceremony.
Baptismal Certificate of Catholic Parent
Please note that the Catholic parent will be asked to present a copy of their own Baptismal Certificate.
The Baptism of older children
Sometimes parents request baptism of an older child – say three or four years old. The above notes also apply to the baptism of older children. However, once a child reaches the age of reason (about the age of seven or eight), the child will undergo a period of catechesis in the faith.
If you do not live in St Alphege's Parish
Strictly speaking your child should be baptised in the parish where you live. However, you may regard yourself as a member of "the worshipping community" of St Alphege's, attending Mass here regularly. In this case please speak to the priest of the Parish where you live and ask for written permission for the baptism to take place here.
We look forward to welcoming your child into the life of faith.